Disney Rules That Can Make Your Service Magical

disney_service_featureDisney is beloved the world over and is recognized as a premiere family destination place. Whether you’re talking about the parks in Orlando, or California, people pay premium prices to be able to enjoy a little of the magic. But what makes Disney any different than the other amusement parks in the world? Many would say it’s Disney’s philosophy and training.

A recent article in Fast Company outlined the Seven Disney Service Guidelines:

  1. Make eye contact: – While a seemingly small thing, Disney is usually super busy. Being a person in this large moving body of people migrating from ride to ride can make someone feel very small and insignificant. By training employees to make eye contact with each and every guest they encounter, the employee is acknowledging their presence and personalizing their experience. It’s similar to saying, “You matter,” with a look.
  2. Greet and welcome every guest: – By making eye contact and then saying “Hello,” and welcoming them to the Park, people are made to feel special and important. A simple acknowledgement of their existence and singling out amidst this sea of humans is an act that people not only remember, but appreciate.
  3. Seek out guest contact: – Disney employees are not trained to be passive. They are taught to seek out guest contact, not to wait for a guest to initiate. They are actively in the crowd doing their job and, at the same time, looking for opportunities to interact with guests. I’m not talking about guests that “need” interaction (i.e.: Someone is having a bad experience that needs intervention). Disney employees are looking to interact with as many guests as possible.  Their goal is simply to make someone’s day just a little happier.
  4. Provide immediate service recovery: – This is an integral part of the guidelines. The Disney parks are huge and accidents happen – whether its something as small as a child spilling their popcorn or a larger issue – so Disney has empowered its employees to use their judgment and take action immediately to fix the situation rather than force a guest to wait for a “manager” to appear.
  5. Always display appropriate body language: – Disney knows that body language is just as important as physical language. People naturally communicate through body language all the time. . It’s not only important to watch what they say and how they say it. An employee having a bad day (which everyone does) can easily transmit that through their body language without ever once complaining. You set the tone for the atmosphere in your business. Customers will mimic that tone even if it’s subconsciously.
  6. Create dreams and preserve the “magical guest experience”: – Anything within an employee’s power that can be done to enhance the guest experience is encouraged. Disney wants everyone’s trip to be memorable and magical and sometimes, it only takes a small thing to make that happen… a hug from a Princess, a “Happy Birthday” from an employee while in line, etc. Even the smallest gesture can be magnified when seen through the eyes of a child.
  7. Thank each and every guest: – As businesses, we certainly are appreciative of all of our customers but do they know it? This simple policy is designed to insure that every guest is acknowledged and thanked at some point in the day (if not multiple times) for choosing Disney. They don’t post people at the exits specifically to say this; they expect their employees to be doing this continuously all day long.

Disney has some great lessons and practices that can be applied to any business. They are making the adoption of these by other businesses easier through the sharing and teaching of non-Disney employees and business owners through their Disney University. Disney has such a loyal customer base because it has policies in place to make everyone feel special. They also empower their employees to take immediate action to rectify anything that could jeopardize a guest experience.

One thing I’d like to leave you with. If you ask Disney, they don’t have any “employees.” Their staff is called “Cast Members.” Why? Because they realize that the Park is their venue, the guests are their audience and they are always, always, on stage.

Case Study: Why Kelly Nissan Was Hesitant to Sell Cars from the Service Drive & How They Now Sell 25 Additional Cars Per Month

Like many car dealerships, Kelly Nissan was hesitant to sell cars from their already extremely profitable service drive.

So, they focused their advertising and marketing efforts on getting people to their sales floor – instead of those prospects that are already inside the dealership right now, getting work done on their cars. And, they were spending at least $400 to $600 per car sold on advertising.

Here Are the 3 Excuses Kelly Nissan Used to Explain Why They Weren’t Selling Cars from Their Service Drive…

Reason #1: They have tried selling cars from the service drive in the past- and it didn’t work.

When Kelly Nissan first thought about selling from the service drive, they rotated sales executives from the sales floor into the service drive.  These sales executives who spent about 95% of their time on the sales floor failed to adapt to the service drive. They were using the same, pushy sales strategies that new car salesmen are known for on customers who came in specifically for maintenance or repairs and not to be sold to. That’s why their conversion rate from the service drive was less than one half percent.

When you have potential customers for a new car in your dealership for other reasons you can’t come across with a hard sell. You need to take a quality assurance process where you go over their account in full to ensure that their service needs are met. And, while you review their account, you let the service customers know about their options and how it can be saving them more money in the long run.

Reason #2 – They failed to get buy-in from both the sales and service departments

Many sales from the service drive efforts fail simply because there isn’t any buy-in.

Since the beginning, when car dealerships added a service drive to their dealership for additional revenue, the sales and service departments were always in two completely different silos:

  • The sales department is responsible for bringing in new car sales from the sales floor
  • The service department is responsible for bringing in additional revenue through maintenance and repair programs.

Part of this mentality is the fact that service managers get commissions on the services being performed – and they’re afraid that they’ll lose commissions if you turn a service customer into a “new car sale” customer. And, they’re afraid they’ll lose commissions if you turn service customers off because they’re not at the dealership now to get sold.

Car sales executives don’t buy-in to selling cars from the service drive because they know service customers are there for repairs and that the typical conversion rate from the service drive is one-half percent. Why would they want to be taken off the sales floor where they feel that they are more likely to close a customer on a new car deal?

Reason #3 – They were afraid to harm their CSI & SSI numbers

Because, the service drive is a profitable revenue center for Kelly Nissan (and for many car dealerships I speak to), they were afraid to try to increase car sales from the service drive. They rely on customers coming back on a regular maintenance schedule and they don’t want to push these customers away to other dealerships or mechanics.

Now, we showed Kelly Nissan real proof that they’d actually increase their CSI and SSI numbers by taking a quality assurance approach – and at the same time increase their new car sales from the service drive.

Here Are the Actions Kelly Nissan Took In Order to Sell 25 Cars per Month from the Service Drive

We challenged the Kelly Group to try our quality assurance approach with one of their dealerships – and see if they experience improved results from their service drive. With our guidance, support and technologies they:

  1. Created a team of quality assurance professionals who were given the tools to identify prospects in the service drive that should be in the market for a new car and trained in a personalized 8-step process that shows customers you are truly interested in meeting their service needs. Now, they were not just taking sales executives and putting them into the service drive just armed with data that they received from a data mining program.
  2. Integrated telemarketing, merchandising and consultative marketing strategies to help them gain a 4% to 5% closing rate. Their quality assurance reps would call the service customers and confirm their appointments plus using proven scripts, they’d let the customers know that they’d like to speak to them personally to go over their account and ensure that their service needs are met. At the dealership, customers find merchandise throughout the service drive that lets them know that the dealership is looking to buy “high quality cars.”  Plus, the service customers receive a personalized letter from the GM that discusses in more detail how the dealership is looking to buy back cars. During the one-on-one session with a quality assurance rep, the customers go through a complete account worksheet to ensure that the dealership has the latest information on their account. From there the quality assurance rep can explain their options and show the savings they received.
  3. Kelly Nissan showed both the sales department and the service department how they BOTH will benefit from this quality assurance program. They showed their teams how it’s about improving the customer experience and how this will positively affect the whole dealership.

The Results Achieved…And Your Next Steps

By changing the way cars are sold from the service drive, Kelly Nissan is selling at least 20 to 25 new cars each and every single month from the service drive. These are additional sales that they would not have gotten otherwise.

Watch their video testimonial HERE

Now all of the dealerships are using the Service Turn technology to identify prospects within the service drive that should be in the market for a new car and they are using our 8-step quality assurance process. Instead of converting one-half percent of their service drive customers into new car sales – they have a 4% to 5% conversion.

During our next webinar for car dealers, service managers and sales managers, the former GM of Kelly Nissan will share with you in complete detail how he used the 8-step quality assurance process to get more car sales from the service drive.

Register for this free webinar now by clicking HERE!

How Big Data Can Transform Your Customer Service Experience

Customer-Experience-Management-Customer-Centric-Organization-copyAn acquaintance of mine shared an experience with me that got me thinking. He traveled frequently and was a member of a particular hotel chain’s loyalty program. One particular stay at one of the chain’s locations was, in his opinion, beneath the quality that he had come to expect from the chain. There were multiple issues with the room – some involving cleanliness and even security. He had just driven 10 hours that day so he kept his mouth shut, ate and went to sleep. The next morning, after checkout, he decided to tweet about this experience in an effort to vent a little. He didn’t run around the Internet leaving negative reviews, just sent a single tweet. As he continued his drive towards his next destination, about an hour after that tweet was sent, he got a phone call. When he answered the phone, he was surprised to hear that the caller was the manager of the hotel he had stayed at the night before and tweeted about. Curious, he asked how they had managed to track him down. The manager explained that the corporate office saw the tweet, identified him, contacted the hotel and spoke to the manager. She then apologized for the sub-par experience he had and explained that she had reversed all charges for the room.

A lot of pieces had to fall into place for that to happen. Someone had to have been monitoring social media channels, identify a problem, track down the customer in their database, identify the reservation and location where the problem happened, contact the hotel itself and, ultimately, contact the customer. This wouldn’t have been possible in the past. But I can tell you that this not only impressed him enough to start telling people; it created an even more loyal customer than he had been before.

Dealerships use data in many ways –including records of sales processes, service repair orders, and marketing – but not many utilize this data to enhance their customer service experience.  In this article by Experian, they explain how the “key to strong customer service is intimacy.” Data alone cannot provide this intimacy. Human interaction is needed to really be able to know the customer, communicate with them and gain insights into their wants and needs. Both need to exist, however.

Joe Weinman, a columnist for Forbes, explained in an article, “An intimate relationship is the exact opposite of an anonymous transaction. Rather than a standalone profitable transaction, such a relationship is oriented towards a win-win. Customer intimacy is a competitive strategy, corporate culture and organizational design – all rolled into one – supporting multiple such relationships.”

One of the largest profit centers of any dealership is their fixed operations, but this is also the most neglected when it comes to just about everything – from tracking customer transactions with technology to marketing to them with targeted, behavior specific offers designed to convert at much higher rates. It’s also typically the last part of a dealerships operations to see the introduction of new technologies designed to enhance the customer experience and provide a more efficient process.

The fact remains that this competitive strategy of customer intimacy necessitates the introduction of technology tools in all departments of your dealership. Dealerships need to be able to identify problems and take action based on instantaneously available data. Without this component, this strategy falls apart.

The future of business success, according to the Experian article, will rely on having a system in which “companies can bolster their personal knowledge with streamlined, real-time access to more information. This will empower them to make better business decisions than ever before.”

The next time that negative tweet, Facebook comment, or review appears online be prepared to WOW the customer with technology in place that provides all the components that you’ll need to do this. By having the ability to react in real-time with comprehensive data integrated with your personal interaction with the customer, you’ll create an environment that increases profits through increased retention and the creation of brand evangelists.

Why Car Dealerships Should Not Rely on Data Mining Software or Programs?

Yes, data mining is part of our EDGE Service Turn program and yes we are telling car dealerships that they should not rely on data mining services. You see, data mining is only “part of” our program as we offer clients a full-service, technology-driven program.

Here’s what’s wrong with most data mining services and software…

1. Data mining software and data mining services are great at identifying prospects who should be in the market for a new car – but they leave sales executives hanging afterward.

There are many reputable data mining services, programs and solutions that help sales executives at car dealerships identify the best service prospects that should be in the market for a new car. They provide sales executives with all the information they need including:

  •  The car owner’s current interest rates – and the rate they can be getting right now if they got a new car
  • Book values and auction market reports so sales executives can offer their clients appealing trade-up values
  • How much is being spent on the car for maintenance issues so sales executives can show clients the maintenance savings they’d be experiencing if they got a new car

However, what good is this information if your sales executives do not know how to use this information to turn service customer into new car buyers? You see, data mining companies that offer their tools as a solution for car dealerships (rather than part of a solution that offers support to a process) enables car dealers to continue the traditional sales approach in the service department that’s converting less than 1%! In fact, the industry average for selling new cars from the service drive is .5%, while our clients are experiencing an average of 3% to 5% closing rates from the service drive.

It’s not your sales executives’ faults that you are not selling more cars from the service drive. They do not know any better. Instead of adapting to a new environment where customers are not looking to be sold, they are relying on the same strategies that worked on the sales floor as all they are given is data.

We offer clients an entire process that helps car dealers sell cars through service by providing:

  • Complete manager’s report
  • Appointment confirmation phone scripts
  • Merchandising that lets customers know that the dealership is interested in buying high quality cars
  • Letters from the GM that provide a highly personalized customer experience
  • Client information worksheets that are designed to demonstrate your genuine interest in getting to know about the customers while showing the customers that they really need to get a new car now
  • Rep training as sales executives need to know how to use the data to provide service customers with a unique customer experience that focuses on quality assurance first.

I’m revealing our 8 step quality assurance process that helps Kelly Nissan sell at least 25 additional cars per month (from the service drive) that they would not have gotten otherwise. Not only is Kelly Nissan getting more cars sold but they’ve also increased their CSI & SSI!

Register for this webinar now! https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/970279266

 2.  Data mining tools help you find the people that might be interested in buying a new car for a variety of reasons but then you have to get them into the dealership somehow.

On average, car dealerships are paying $400 per car sold on advertising to get people inside their doors. Their spending money on telemarketing, sales reps performing cold sales calls, radio/TV/newspaper/magazine/internet marketing and now even social media marketing.

Car dealerships are spending all this money on lead generation – and they’re totally forgetting about the leads that are already at their dealership. That’s why I help clients focus on the customers already coming in for service (maintenance and repairs of their current car). You don’t have to worry about getting them to the dealership – as they already have scheduled appointments (meaning existing new car sales opportunities.)

3. Car dealerships are only taking advantage of 30% of new car sales opportunities using data mining tools.

Data mining tools like Auto Alert can’t help car dealerships with customers that come in without an appointment. That means dealerships miss out on 40-50% of the opportunities, as that is the typical percentage of people that come in for service without an appointment. You need specialized car dealership software and technology that allows your dealership to quickly identify prospects for a new car and put them through the new car sales conversion process whether they have a scheduled appointment or not.

4. Because of the financial crisis – the data can be inaccurate

After the global banking and financial crisis, banks are making their own decisions on the residual value of the car and their estimated current value of the car in order to reduce risk and cut their losses. This is resulting in inconsistent information and inaccuracies that sales executives would be unaware of if they do not have a process to evaluate the customer’s current situation.

You see, the data and the technology should not be the end solution. You need a complete process that offers a personalized, human touch that gives customers the service experience they are looking for while letting them know about their options.

To see how your car dealership can sell at least 20 to 25 new cars per month from the service drive (while simultaneously increasing your dealerships CSI and SSI) – register for our next case study webinar where we show you how the Kelly Group  gets a 5% sales conversion from their service drive month-after-month.

Register for this free webinar now! https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/970279266

The Technology Invasion… Are You Ready?

imagesDealerships are typically slow to embrace technology. In some cases, it’s for budgetary reasons and for others it’s out of a lack of a sense of need. A recent article in WardsAuto.com reinforced the need for dealerships to streamline their processes. The article explains how as car manufacturing improves and service intervals grow, the only way for a dealership to increase or maintain its current service revenue is through the ability to service more vehicles.

This is increasingly being done through the digitization of repair orders; more streamlined processes during the write-up involving iPads or mobile devices that contain all the customer’s service history at a glance. This is similar to systems that many hospitals have adopted.

WardsAuto.com advises that dealerships should “expect a different breed of car buyer who want a more hands-off, yet transparent, way to engage the dealership.” At the same time that manufacturers are creating onboard computers that will wirelessly relay vehicle data to the dealership, customers are adopting mobile device apps and expect businesses they patronize to as well.

Improving workflow between departments is key to increasing efficiency. At the same time, dealers don’t want to miss opportunities that they could have upselling a repair order. Just as dealerships have adopted CRMs to control sales processes, technology can be used in the same way. It can help to control service processes and ensure that shortcuts aren’t taken while writing repair orders. It can also ensure that the dealership successfully captures all revenue opportunities by correctly presenting them to the customer.

WardsAuto.com explains that many dealerships are embracing paper-free systems that allow them to decrease paper and storage fees as well as employee error, while also reducing warranty chargeback costs.

Service advisors of the future will need less expertise because all of the technical information will be at their fingertips. Qualities that make a good service advisor will change from auto technical knowledge to customer service and sales skills. Dealerships will always need human interaction, however. Most consumers don’t want to deal with push-button robots in the nature of gas-station car washes (press 1 for 85,000 mile service, etc.)  What they want is more transparency and efficiency in the processes involved in getting their cars serviced.

Dealerships that adopt technology, streamline their processes and make a more pleasant customer-centric service experience will position themselves well to compete with the independent auto shops for the extra service business that they’ll need to acquire to maintain and grow fixed ops revenue for their stores.

The Zappos Approach to Customer Service

wow-left-red-300x233What is your biggest asset?  Is it your impressive floor plan, the lineup of new inventory you have on your lot or is it your employees, customers and service that matter most?  In an industry where a significant amount of emphasis is still placed on units sold, I challenge you to rethink your approach to business.  Customer service and brand management are your biggest assets and it is imperative that you dedicate attention there in order to be recognized as a great place to do business.

Without great customer service, whether it’s provided by your sales or service team, the receptionist or even your shuttle driver, your brand suffers.  Consumers have lots of choice; and they have become extremely savvy as to who they engage in business with.  So you need to provide an experience that is positively memorable and encourages them to share the experience with others, and come back for more.  To quote Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an industry leader of online shoe and clothing retail, “You need to deliver WOW through service“.

Service is the heart of any business.  Getting people to make the initial purchase is one thing, sustaining the business takes work and dedication.  And this work doesn’t have to be hard or tiresome.  Try some simple acts of kindness, like greeting your customers at their vehicle when they roll in for service, offering a relaxed environment to stroll through your lot while shopping for their new vehicle. Or even making a point to be proactive and stay connected to your customers throughout the day via phone, text, email or personal websites, to give them a heads up on the progress of their vehicle service, can go a long way into “wowing” them.

Quality customer service should be at the forefront of your corporate values and mission statement.  We can all learn a great deal from the experiences we have from businesses like Zappos.  Zappos employees are encouraged to spend as much time as they need with their phones customers, make recommendations, and even direct them to a competitor’s website if they are out of inventory of the product that the customer really wants to buy.  Sending a customer down the road is a very unsettling idea. However, offering to service that vehicle throughout the ownership lifecycle is a great opportunity to continue to earn the loyalty from that customer.  Don’t just send them down the road empty handed.  Offer them the same opportunities to participate in your loyalty programs, recognize them on their birthdays/anniversaries and continue to send your mail offers.  Don’t lose the connection or the opportunity to provide great service.  Transparency is a key element that can be pivotal in building your brand and customer loyalty.

To reinforce this customer first culture, regular quick-tip meetings with your entire staff is a good way to make sure everyone understands your mission and vision.  Dedicating 10-to-15 minutes a day or week to go over your key customer service points is a method to ensure everyone understands the business culture and how to best service every customer or potential customer that walks through your doors.  Fostering a positive environment can naturally be reflective in how your customers feel welcomed when they visit your dealership.

As a side note, if you ever come to Las Vegas (whether it’s for work or pleasure) and can pry yourself away from the intoxication of the ringing sounds from the slot machines, flashing lights and fascination of the elaborate casinos, I encourage you to drive to Henderson where Zappos is headquartered… which incidentally is just a few miles from MPi’s headquarter.  Zappos offers tours to individuals and businesses to come and meet their dedicated team members, get a glimpse into their culture and offers free resources that you can take back to your office to create your own wow factor.  Because MPi is so close in proximity to Zappos’s office, my staff has taken advantage of this opportunity on numerous occasions.  Each time they visit, they return with great ideas about how we can foster a customer first approach to our business.  And we’ve implemented them.  MPi is known for the highest level of customer care in our market space as we work hard to live by our motto: “customers come first”.

Now is the time to get creative with your approach to service and put your customers first so they are customers for life.

Four Service Drive Selling Undisputed Facts That Only 10% of Today’s Car Dealerships Are Taking Advantage of and Profiting From

Ninety percent (90%) of the car dealers we talk to over the phone, at trade shows, and in one-on-one meetings, have zero processes in place to buy or sell cars from the service drive. That means only 10% of car dealers are taking advantage and selling cars to those who should be in the market for a new car and are in the dealership right now.

And, those that are taking action and trying to sell from the service drive are achieving sales of only 0.5 percent of RO’s compared to our clients who are achieving 4% to 5% with a customer-focused approach. In fact, after the third month of implementation, Bulldog Kia – Bogart, GA had a 4.68% closing rate from the service drive. They had 427 RO’s and 20 sales in a 30 day period.

Now, I know many of you who are reading this blog post right now are still skeptical as you put sales and service in two completely different silos. And, as you’ve either never thought about your service drive as a vehicle to sell more cars or tried it and failed, let me share four service drive selling undisputed facts that only 10% of today’s car dealerships are taking advantage of.

Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #1: It’s the greatest, most cost-effective opportunity within your dealership right now to increase sales immediately and permanently

Dealerships are spending at least $400 per car sold on advertising – whether it’s direct mail, email campaigns and newspaper/TV/radio/magazine ads or 3rd party leads – to bring more people into their dealerships. Many dealerships are paying even more money for advertising as they are implementing social media marketing and mobile marketing campaigns on top of all their other marketing efforts. We know this because we manage client’s marketing campaigns through our Auto Point Division.

Yet, car dealerships with a service drive have customers coming in every day who:

  • Have manufacturer’s warranties expiring and will want to experience maintenance savings
  • Are paying interest rates that are too high
  • Have equity in the car that can be used as a down payment on a new vehicle

You don’t have to worry about getting these people into the door – and spending extra money. They’re already in your dealership. They just need a customer service representative to review their needs and let them know about their options.

Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #2: It’s the most effective way to prevent your competition from stealing your customers

If you don’t have a service drive conversion process in place, you have no way to tell whether or not the service drive customers (that are already inside your dealership) are or should be in the market for a new car.

So your customers are leaving the store and they’re exposed to advertising from your competitors constantly. Now, as the customers are already in your store, if you took the opportunity to reach out and speak to them about their needs you can capture people in the market before your competitors.

Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #3: If done correctly there is no better way to increase both your customer service and service satisfaction indexes

Many car dealers are afraid to try to sell cars from their service drive as they’ve tried to place a traditional salesman in the service department and it failed miserably. Instead of selling more cars, customers became turned off with their service experience. It’s because they approached selling cars from the service drive the same way they would in the showroom.

Instead, you have to make it about improving the customer experience. You want it to be about quality assurance – where you are making sure that their service needs are met. And, while you review their needs (and their information), you let them know about their options and how they can save money in the long run. Our clients are not only experiencing 20-25 more cars sold per month out of their service drive, but they are also experiencing increases in both their CSI and SSI.

As a Quality Assurance Representative at one of our customers in Canada told us recently; “Exclusively selling cars out of service was new for me. I am a closer and have always worked the front. I had to actually “calm myself down” and not “go in for the close” as fast as I normally would. These customers came in for Service, not to buy a car. Once I really focused on this I saw results.”

Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #4: Data mining tools miss 70% of the car selling opportunities from the service drive.

There are several data mining tools available in the market today. But that’s all they are – a tool. They don’t have any answers for the traditional selling approach. Plus, data mining tools can’t help car dealerships with customers that come in without an appointment.

That means dealerships miss out on 60-70% of the opportunities, as that is the typical percentage of people that come in for service without an appointment. You need a service drive selling process that allows your dealership to put customers through the sales process whether they have a scheduled appointment or not. Data mining is just a very small part of that overall process.

Interested in learning how you can sell more cars from the service drive?

Join us for a free webinar, where we’ll talk about industry trends and show you why now is the time to really focus on sales through the service drive. We’ll also share an example of a customer that has been converting 4-5% of their RO’s into new car sales for months.

Register for this free webinar now: Click HERE to register!

Creating Customer Loyalty through Consistency

Consistency-Boring-Can-Be-Good-Low-resHotel chains across the country have long had problems with customer loyalty due to an  inconsistent customer experience. In researching the problem it was found that the prime reason for the disparity in customer experience was due to the growth of each major brand. Hotel chains were acquiring new properties and, in many cases, simply slapping their corporate branding on the building to attract customers.

Despite the fact that each hotel within the chain shared the same name, the quality and amenities at each varied. Some were luxurious and offered all the amenities that a business traveler could want; and some were below the standards that their loyal customers had come to expect. In 2004, the hotel brand, Hyatt decided to tackle the problem and do something different.

Hyatt created the “Hyatt Place” addition to their brand offerings. Their strategy was to create a brand in which, no matter where it was located, a business traveler would have the exact same experience. Everything is exactly the same. The lobby has the same floor plan, the bar/eating area is in the same place, the fitness center is in the same place and offers the same equipment, and each and every room at all 160 locations is exactly the same. Business travelers fell in love almost immediately. They knew exactly what they would be getting no matter which location they stayed in. Hyatt Place has won 7 awards over the last 6 years, and recently became the highest-rated mid-priced hotel chain in the country.

Consistent customer experiences generate trust. Trust generates loyalty. Trust, however, is a fragile thing. It is hard to earn but easy to lose.

How does customer experience translate to loyalty in your dealership’s service department?

It starts with consistency. Your technicians inspect customer vehicles and recommend repairs to your advisors who advise your customers. How consistent are your recommendations? Do you know how to find out?

An exercise that I recommend to dealerships is as follows:

  1. Find a car that none of your service techs have ever looked at.
  2. Put it on a hoist and have each of your technicians independently (and by themselves) inspect the vehicle, just as they would a customer’s car, and record their observations and make their recommendations.
  3. After all of the techs have inspected the vehicle, compare the findings.

This is an actual example of the results of this exercise:

inspection results_inconsistent

As you can see, the results are all over the place. Imagine if  a customer visited the dealership and the advisor told them they needed service on both the left and right front brake linings. The customer declines on this occasion. On their next visit maybe they ask the service advisor about those brake linings. Based on the inspection from that visit, where a different tech does the inspection, the customer is told that the tech marked them as fine. This would certainly raise red flags to the customer. It could also destroy the trust that’s been built with them.

I challenge you to perform this exercise on a regular basis. It will help create a more consistent customer experience with each visit reinforcing the declined recommendations given previously. And it will also help point out errors to any techs that need additional training due to recommending unnecessary repairs and/or failing to see needed repairs. Set a consistency goal in relation to this exercise and, when it’s achieved, have a pizza party to reward your techs.

Customer experiences are of course important in all areas of your dealership. The service drive accounts for almost half your dealership’s revenue and sees more traffic in a day than your showroom may see in a week. Make your service experience one that builds trust in your customer and loyalty will follow.

Is Your Service Department Your Red-Headed Stepchild?

Hide-and-Seek-GameThere was a fascinating article in Automotive News which discussed a new trend that many dealers are adopting: placing their service departments at the front of their dealerships.

In the article, it showcased Bill Underriner of Underriner Motors who was also the President of NADA in 2012, explaining why this concept was a wise strategy. With the service, parts and body shop accounting for, on average, 43% of a dealership’s annual gross profits, it made no sense to hide it as is the case with most dealership’s building design. Although costly, he expects that it will pay for itself within 2-1/2 to 4 years due to an expected 14% increase in revenue from those departments.

Many dealers focus too much of their marketing on building showroom traffic and car sales. It’s certainly an area in which they need to excel as well as sate their OEMs through branding. In some cases, OEMs are even subsidizing building redesigns to conform dealerships to a single look and feel. Given the high percentage of revenue generated by these fixed ops departments, however, why would you want to hide them in the back of your building?

The facts are that there is a transformation occurring within the automotive landscape. While the number of vehicle on the road has increased to 249 million, the number of vehicles on the road under warranty has decreased by 10%. The length of ownership has also increased from 34 months in 2001 to 58 months in 2012 – an increase of 170%. The trend of length of ownership increasing, in combination with the decrease in cars under warranty, means that there has never been a better opportunity to increase your fixed ops revenue.

By putting your service department front and center, implementing processes and technology that facilitate easier communications amongst departments while making information available that will encourage and increase up-sells to service clients, the opportunity to increase revenue has never been better.

To be continued…

MPi at the 14th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition

I always feel very fortunate to participate in the Digital Dealer Conferences. Helping dealers and their management staff gain new insights and techniques to increase revenue is something that’s very rewarding.

On Tuesday, I was happy to be one of the first speakers at the three day conference.   I presented to a full room on the strategies service management can use to transform their service drive into a sales drive. I spoke about using mobile technology and taking a new approach to customer retention with new vehicle acquisitions in the service drive — We’re leaving money on the table, folks!

In today’s automotive world, no dealer wants to lose business and the service drive is filled with potential sales opportunity. And I’m not just talking about up-sells on ROs. The audience was very receptive and inquisitive to the ideas I shared concerning increasing revenue and analyzing fixed operations to identify areas which can be improved. With so many quality speakers and sessions to choose from, I am grateful so many dealers chose to hear what I had to say. It’s always rewarding to have an intimate discussion with dozens of individuals at one time about how we can move our industry forward and think outside-the-box.

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On the exhibit hall floor, our staff showcased MPi’s newest accelerator, EDGE SmartTech. Our team was inundated with dealerships interested in learning how our unique data can help technicians perform vehicle inspections at a higher caliber and present legitimate vehicle recommendations. It certainly proves that dealers are starting to recognize the revenue they are failing to take advantage of that’s presenting itself to them daily.

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To the conference staff and all of the attendees of the 14th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, thank you for another great conference and for the privilege of assisting dealers.